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Paternity Law Attorney in Jacksonville

When parents are married, paternity is most often established without legal action. The presumption is that the husband is the father and the wife is the mother. However, unmarried parents will have to establish legal paternity in order for the father to claim legal rights and responsibilities concerning his child or in order for the mother to collect child support. A declaration of paternity may be signed by the parents voluntarily when the child is born or they may obtain a judgment from the court, giving the unmarried parents the same rights as married parents.

Under Florida law, the mother of a child born out of wedlock is the natural guardian of the child and is automatically granted custody of the child. As such, the mother has all of the rights over that child. Nothing changes this for single parents EXCEPT the filing of a Petition for Paternity and requesting that the Court grant parental responsibility (the right to make decisions) and time sharing ("custody"). Keep in mind that as long as there is no court ruling in effect, all custody and time sharing decisions are made solely by the mother.


How is paternity established in Florida?

 In the state of Florida, paternity can be established in two ways: through a court order or an Acknowledgment of Paternity document. An Acknowledgment of Paternity document is a document that both parents sign at the hospital during the birth of the child. As a result of this signing, the father's name will appear on the birth certificate. If the declaration of paternity is not signed at the hospital after the child's birth, it can be signed at a later time. If it is signed by both parents later, a new birth certificate can be issued with both parents' names.

Benefits of Establishing Paternity

Depending on the situation, establishing paternity can be highly beneficial for both the father and the mother of the child, not to mention extremely beneficial to the child. For women who have recently had a child or become pregnant, establishing paternity is crucial in supporting their child and ensuring they grow up with a father figure. On the other hand, if the father of the child wishes to be a part of his child’s life and exercise parental rights, he can establish paternity to fight for visitation or custody.

Paternity affects the following:

  • Visitation Rights
  • Child Custody
  • Child Support

Some of the benefits for a child in establishing paternity are:

  • Financial Support From Both Parents
  • Health And Life Insurance Benefits From Parents
  • Access To Father’s Medical History Information
  • Right To Social Security & Military Benefits
  • Access To Survivor’s Benefits And Rights Of Inheritance
  • Name Will Be Added To Birth Certificate & Child Will Be Aware Of The Identity Of Father
  • Father’s Involvement In Child-Rearing

If the father of a child wishes to have custody of the child, or is seeking visitation rights, paternity must be estabished. Attorney Leanne Perez has experience in satisfactorily settling cases involving father's rights and other matters.

Disestablishment of Paternity

What if the father suspects at some point after signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity document that the child may not be his? He might not deem it fair that he should have to provide financial support to someone else's child, which might leave him asking an important question: can you ever disestablish paternity in Florida?

The answer to this question is yes. Within the constraints of state law, a man may prove he is not the child's biological father by getting a DNA testing and submitting it along with his Petition to Disestablish Paternity. This test must have been administered within 90 days of filing a petition though, otherwise it may not be considered by the courts prior to making a judgment.

Petition to Disestablish Paternity must be served on the mother or legal guardian of the child. If the Florida Department of Revenue is already involved in the case for child support obligations and the petition was established administratively without a court order, the Department of Revenue must also be served in the circuit where the child support obligation exists. Duties to pay child support and other legal obligations for the child will not be suspended while the petition is pending unless good cause has been shown. If the disestablishment of paternity is granted, relief will be given for future child support payments, termination of parental rights, custody, and visitation rights.

In some situations a court will not disestablish an existing paternity determination. A court will not approve the disestablishment of paternity if a man, after learning he is not the father of the child voluntarily assumed parental obligation and married the mother, acknowledged paternity of the child in a sworn statement, consented to be named as the child’s biological father on the child’s birth certificate, signed a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, or ignored a court order or written notice to submit to scientific genetic testing.


Free Consultation! Call Today 904-990-3066

ttorney Leanne Perez handles all sorts of paternity cases, from mothers wanting to establish paternity in order to collect child support to fathers wanting to establish paternity for visitation and custody purposes. Attorney Leanne Perez is dedicated to getting results that you and your family deserve. Call today at (904) 990-3066 or fill out the contact form on our website for more information.

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